S2E17: The Downton Abbey Effect, with Sara McGillivray

This month marks the much-anticipated premiere of the Downton Abbey movie, the follow-up to the massively popular television. In this episode, we are joined by guest host Sara McGillivray to discuss her research on the “Downton Abbey Effect.” Sara explores how the series transformed heritage tourism and conservation, ultimately saving the country house that Downton is based on: Highclere Castle. She also examines how the history of Highclere Castle, the Carnarvon family, and the decline of the aristocracy are portrayed on screen.

If you’re a fan of the show, you likely know more about the history of the fictional Downton Abbey than you do Highclere Castle. Sara offers details on the real history of the now-famous manor house and how this history is reflected in its fictional counterpart. Stay tuned for answers to other questions like what connection Highclere has with the founding of Canada, and what impact the television show has had on the field of public history.


About Our Guest

Sara McGillivray holds a Master of Arts in Public History from Carleton University where she wrote her Major Research Essay titled “‘The Downton Abbey Effect’: The Restoration of Highclere Castle and the Bampton Old Grammar School.” She currently works at Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada as a Social Media Advisor, and is part of Canada’s Commission for UNESCO’s Youth Advisory Group where she focuses on culture and heritage. You can follow her on Twitter @saramcgillivray.



Hosts: Robin Mullins and Keely McCavitt

Guest Host: Sara McGillivray

Producers: Robin Mullins and Emily Cuggy

Audio Editing: Emily Cuggy

Image Credit: Sara McGillivray